Dozens of Southeast Michigan's leading young swimmers begin today to compete in Greensboro, NC, in a four-day national championship meet.
Teams from Birmingham, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills and four other area communities will compete against youths from around the country at the YMCA Short Course National Championship. Individual and relay events run Monday through Thursday.
Two dozen members of the Birmingham Blue Dolphins (BBD), representing the , are making that team's 42nd appearance at the nationals. Its competitors, aged 12-18, are from 12 public and private schools around the region – including two middle schools.
BBD swimmers in 2011 earned three first-place medals and finished ninth overall.
This year's team includes Maggie Pyett of Bloomfield Hills, a 15-year-old Detroit Country Day student who contributed to a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay and a second-place result in the 200-yard medley relay at last April's meet in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She tweeted Friday afternoon: "Leaving for nattys!!!!! Ah so confident."
Pyett is among point-scoring prospects again, says head coach Kevin Fogarty, a former Brother Rice High School swimmer who's now curriculum director at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills.
Another returning star is Matt Wolkhamer, 17, swim team captain at in Birmingham. He's this year's 100-yard breaststroke state champion in Division 2 and a member of the Oakland Activities Association first-place 200-yard medley relay team.
A third strong local contender is Gus Kouvaris of Troy, part of a 400-yard freestyle relay team at Brother Rice that placed second in the Division 1 state finals March 10.
Sixteen Michigan teams have entered the meet, including the , (Royal Oak), the North Oakland Family YMAC (Auburn Hills), the Livonia Family YMCA, the Macomb Family YMCA (Mount Clemens) and the Ann Arbor YMCA.
Three past Olympic swimmers were to deliver welcoming remarks late Sunday afternoon at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
The Birmingham Y's team has 12 boys and 12 girls, listed by their schools' cities:
- Beverly Hills: Maggie Pyett, 15, Detroit Country Day
- Birmingham: Kelly McGowan, 15, Merrill Watzman, 15, both ; Jack Russell, 14, Michael Shaben, 15, Addison Williams, 16, Matt Wolkhamer, 17, Charlotte Yaw, 18, all ; Allie Russell, 12,
- Bloomfield Hills: Mark Blinstrub, 14, Gus Kouvaris, 15, Patrick Nodland, 16, all Brother Rice; Lara Kokubo, 14, Kylie Powrie, 16, Emme Reasoner, 16, all ; Lucy Ramonat, 16, and John Shihl, both Lahser; Jonathan Withrow, 17, Cranbrook
- Farmington Hills: Christine Edwards, 15,
- Rochester: Jacob Carl, 16, ; Hannah Hunstad, 16, ; Nicole Pape,
- Troy: Miles McDonald, 17, Vic Sun, 17, both